Google is betting big on the Assistant ecosystem and it’s now putting its money where its mouth is. The company announced today it’s launching a new program that will provide investment capital and other resources to early-stage startups that build applications in the Google Assistant ecosystem.
Typically, companies announce these kinds of programs to kickstart an ecosystem around a new product. While developers have already launched plenty of services for the Google Assistant, the company says that it is launching this new program to “promote more of this creativity.”
Google VP for search and the Google Assistant Nick Fox echoed this. “With the Google Assistant, we’re focused on fostering an open ecosystem for developers, device makers, and content partners to build new experiences,” he told me. “We’re already seeing a lot of creativity from developers with the Google Assistant, and to help promote this, we’re opening a new investment program for early-stage startups.”
Investments are one part of this program, but Google will also work with these startups directly to provide them with mentorship and advice from engineers, product managers and design experts. The startups in the program will also get early access to new features and tools, as well as access to the Google Cloud Platform and promotional support. That sounds a bit like an accelerator program, though that’s not quite what Google is calling it.
Fox tells me that Google won’t put a cap on the investments. “We’ll invest as much as we see fit, and are focused on helping startups succeed in this emerging space,” he said. “And we’re not just offering investment capital. We’re eager to partner with these startups and leverage our company’s strengths to help these products come to market poised for success.”
The first startups in this program include GoMoment, a concierge service for hotels and Edwin, a personal English tutor, as well as the developer tools BotSociety and Pulse Labs.
These startups are good representatives of what Google is after. Fox tells me that Google is looking for startups that are “pursuing an interesting space for Assistants, such as vertical industries like travel or gaming.” In addition, Google is also looking to deepen some of its partnerships, but for the most part, it’s simply looking for startups that are pushing technologies like the Assistant forward.